IRAP Funding: What You Need to Know

Omar Visram
IRAP Funding: What You Need to Know
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Regardless of the economic climate in Canada, starting a new business is always a challenge. Thankfully, there is some recourse available for companies that are ready to bring beneficial change to the Canadian economy. The 2013 Canadian budget allocated a whopping $121 million investment into the National Research Council to increase wealth creation for Canada.

Part of the budget will go toward the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). The program aims to help Canadian small and medium-sized businesses increase their innovation capacity and take their ideas to market.

Below is a high-level introduction to the IRAP program:

What is IRAP?

The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) is an innovation assistance program for Canadian small and medium-sized businesses. IRAP provides advice, connections to successful Canadian companies, research expertise, and annual financial support. As a government funding program, it does not obligate recipient companies to repay IRAP funding. IRAP is a grant, not a loan.

The IRAP eligibility requirements include:

  • Incorporated and profit-driven Canadian small and medium-sized businesses
  •  500 or fewer full-time employees
  •  Commitment to developing and commercializing innovative and technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes in Canada

The Benefits of IRAP

From financial support to advisory services, companies that meet the requirements should utilize IRAP to propel their business forward.

IRAP Financial Assistance

IRAP funds provide companies with support for technology innovation. Grant recipients should use the funds on specific projects or services that drive innovation. These can include:

  •  Acquiring or adopting technology
  •  Marketing and commercialization support
  •  Research and business development
  •  Offsetting project costs
  •  Prototyping
  •  Testing
  •  Wages and training

Before applying, companies should create a cohesive plan for a new project. This project should be the focus of the funding proposal.

IRAP Funding Requirements

However, the IRAP funding application process goes beyond merely submitting a proposal. To qualify for IRAP funding, applicants must undergo a successful consultation with a local Industry Technology Advisor. The advisor will review the following company attributes:

  •  Management team, including evaluating the worthiness of current leadership
  •  Financial stability, including the ability to cover additional expenditures related to IRAP-funded projects
  •  Company skillsets, such as the ability to develop and market products or services
  •  Technology overview of technology in use and potential project pitfalls
  •  Market and business opportunities, such as customer acquisition tactics, problems solved by products in development, and strategies to gain market share
  •  High-level project plans and timelines

There is no annual application deadline, but businesses are encouraged to submit proposals as soon as possible.

Pathways to Funding

Funding assistance is available under four sub-programs, each with a unique purpose and funding cap. In general, IRAP funds are capped around $150,000, with exceptions made on a case by case basis.

Technology Innovation Projects:

 This sub-program offers small grants of up to $50,000 for the commercialization or research and development of technology projects.

Mid-sized Technology Innovation Projects:

This program is intended for creating original software or working on internal R&D projects.

Youth Employment Strategy Programs:

The Youth Employment Strategy Program is designed to help young Canadians develop skills, find good jobs, and stay employed. Eligible companies can hire up to two 15 to 30-year-old students or graduates to work in a technology-related role within their business. The program offers up to $30,000 per graduate for 6-12 months.

Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program:

This program offers up to $100,000 or 80% of direct labour and 75% of subcontractor costs to accelerate the product development process for qualifying technology companies.

Making IRAP Work for You

The IRAP program has contributed to the success of countless Canadian businesses. If your company is qualified for the IRAP funding, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

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